Max Verstappen took pole in Japanese GP qualifying but is under investigation following a Q3 incident with Lando Norris; Norris says Verstappen should expect a penalty after forcing him off track; watch Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 at 6am
Last Updated: 08/10/22 9:35am
Lando Norris says Max Verstappen should expect a penalty after a Japanese GP qualifying incident between them forced him to go off track to avoid a high-speed collision.
Verstappen, who can claim the world championship by winning Sunday’s race and taking the fastest lap, took pole position on Saturday but is facing an investigation from the stewards after the Q3 incident with Norris.
As the drivers were on their out-laps ahead of their final flying efforts, with Verstappen going slowly, Norris attempted to overtake the Red Bull on the approach to 130R.
Verstappen then suddenly accelerated, and appeared to lose control of the rear of his car as he swerved across the track towards the line the McLaren was on, leaving Norris no option but to go off track to avoid a collision.
Both Verstappen and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner argued after the session that Norris was breaking a “gentleman’s agreement” between drivers not to overtake on out-laps, but the Briton was adamant the stewards should take action.
Asked if he thought Verstappen tried to block his overtake, Norris told Sky Sports F1: “I mean it was quite clear he tried to do that.
“There’s no rule on what you can do, but doing what he did is something that you cannot do.
“People always overtake before the last corner, as much as everyone agrees to it (gentleman’s agreement), everyone always does it, so it doesn’t matter, he probably would have done the same if he was in my situation, but I wouldn’t have swerved at him if I was in his situation.”
Asked if he would expect a penalty if he had done what Verstappen did, Norris replied: “Oh yeah, for sure.”
Verstappen: Norris could be more respectful
Verstappen, who appeared to offer an apology on the drivers’ in-laps as he pulled alongside Norris and waved, said he had not intentionally blocked the McLaren.
“I was just driving quite slow, and I wanted to accelerate but my tyres were quite cold, so then I had a big moment,” Verstappen said in his on-track interview immediately after qualifying.
“Then of course Lando was trying to pass me at the same time so he had to avoid me a little bit, but luckily nothing happened.”
However, speaking shortly after in a press conference, Verstappen offered a stronger repost to Norris’ comments.
“We were on our out-lap and we were all lining up to try to create a gap to everyone, and somehow he still wanted to get me into the chicane, but I was at the point of acceleration, but I was on very cold tyres so I had a little moment and that’s why he had to drive around me,” he said.
“But if you’re just a bit more respectful, then everyone is anyway already lining up. I don’t think anyone is trying to pass into that last chicane, so basically by trying to pass me you create that kind of problem.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, Red Bull boss Horner was adamant that the incident had been caused accidentally.
“I don’t think he’s trying to block Lando, I just don’t think he was expecting someone on an out-lap at that point near the chicane,” Horner said.
“They’re both on out laps and there’s a gentleman’s agreement between the drivers that when you get to that part of the circuit you hold position and they file through the last chicane one-by-one.
“So, Lando has decided that he wants to jump the queue as they head up to that final chicane. They’ve been following each other all the way around the circuit until that point.”
Button: Verstappen breached F1 regulations
Sky Sports pundit Jenson Button believed that Verstappen was guilty of breaching F1’s sporting regulations, which state that: “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”
Button said: “[He breached] all three I’d have to say. I don’t think any of it was intention, when Lando says he turned left into me, I don’t think he did.
“He [Max] is not looking in his mirrors, he looks like he’s got on the throttle to try and warm the tyres up and that’s put him in a position that looks like he’s moving over on Lando. Should he have done that? No.
“He’s going too slow on the exit of a 200mph corner, so that’s the issue that he has.
“None of it was intentional but the problem is that it could have been a massive incident and was very close to being a massive incident between the two cars.
“Do I think Max will get a penalty? There’s a good possibility.”